“We really don’t like having our photograph taken” – I hear this so many times from couples chatting about their wedding photography and I can really empathise – I’m not too keen on it either! And I suppose that could be seen as a bit wierd! – is it not like being a chocolatier who doesn’t like chocolate or a teacher who can’t stand children? …….
Well, not really because, as a photographer, I’m the one doing the thing to the other person whilst they suffer – I’m not having it done to me and therein lies the problem I think. Having your photograph taken is something that is done to you, often when you don’t want it to be and the results of having it done to you are, at least in your eyes not that great! I actually enjoying doing it to other people but not having it done to me – sounds a bit dodgy!
So the first problem is that way that it’s done, or the actual experience of having your photograph taken and, for many people the other problem is the end result. We often don’t like pictures we see of ourselves even if other people seem to do so. The problem is that we are so used to seeing photographs of perfection, beautifully lit airbrushed models and the like that we have a slightly skewed perception of reality – we are perfectly happy to accept all sorts of imperfections in real life but we often really struggle to accept the same thing in a photograph.
We are also conditioned to prefer our mirror image that we see of ourselves every day – you know the one! – you get to know yourself by looking at a reflection that’s the wrong way round and it’s that image that our brains accept. I’m now at the stage when I look in the mirror and I see my Dad staring back at me! Handsome older man he is but it’s still a bit disconcerting!
Now going back to me being a professional photographer and I have to say that there’s very little I can do to change anyone’s concerns and preconceptions about how they look but I can do A LOT about the actual experience of having your wedding photographs taken that can go a long way to putting some of your photo fears to rest!
Firstly, for a vast majority of your wedding day I will photograph as an observer and photograph you chatting, laughing and enjoying yourself, interacting with your friends and family and well……..just being yourself. Very often you will be aware of me being there but not really be aware of me taking pictures – many of my clients tell me that they actually forget I am there altogether – charming! But actually a real complement as my aim is to be a super incognito unobtrusive wedding photogapher ninja!
Secondly, I’m not going to drag you away from your wedding and ask you to pose for endless photographs smiling at the camera through clenched teeth and looking moody in fields of corn – it’s just not my style. If you would like to do some “staged” bride and groom photographs then I like to photograph you both spending a bit of time together. We go for a walk and do some “walking and talking” shots, I often just ask you to have a chat and maybe a kiss and a cuddle or a bit of messing about where there is a nice background and nice light. Yes, it’s slightly contrived but as much as possible it’s about letting you do your own thing and photographing reality in as complementary way as we can. It only takes 5 – 10 mins and is as pain free as it can be! I’m not a great one for asking you to smile for the camera – it simply doesn’t work!
Finally I have a bit of a knack for making people look good in pictures – of course I can do the nice lighting and all of the technical stuff, but I’m good at getting the right expression, the look in the eye and the right angle. Sometimes I can get a sort of sixth sense about who the person really is, get beneath their skin and somehow get that in a picture – photographing the soul – sounds a bit arty farty I know but that’s always what I’m aiming for. I don’t really see the point in taking a picture purely as a visual record, I want it tell a story, make the viewer feel something, remind them of something, tell them something of value and authenticity about the person in the picture.
And very finally, on the subject of wierd – the only people that I know that actually love seeing photos of themselves are my teenage daughter and her friends. They send hundreds of gruesome selfies to each other via snap chat and the worse they are the cooler they seem to be. I think it’s a sort of post ironic commentary on the objectification of human perfection that we see in 21st century media (yeah man!). It’s definately a bit wierd but actually probably quite healthy!
If you’re not a selfie obsessed teenager and you don’t massively like having your picture taken but would love beautiful unobtrusive and meaningful photographs taken by a wedding photography ninja then I’d love to hear from you! You can get in touch with me here.